Why Theresa May changed her mind about new home secretary Sajid Javid

Written by David Singleton on 30 April 2018 in Diary

May swiftly demoted Javid after winning the Tory leadership.

The appointment of Sajid Javid as home secretary marks a notable change in fortunes for the 48-year-old Tory MP.

Javid and Theresa May are not known to be close politically. Rather, the banker-turned MP for Bromsgrove is known in SW1 as a protege of George Osborne who supported Stephen Crabb over May for Tory leader. As soon as she became prime minister, May demoted Javid from business secretary to communities secretary. And in recent cabinet reshuffles there have been rumours that he could get the chop.

So why the change of heart? 

Asked that question at today’s lobby briefing, the prime minister’s official spokesman did not dispute the premise of it, but stressed Javid's recent track record as the reason for why he got the nod for home secretary.

He said: “Sajid Javid is one of the most experienced ministers around the Cabinet table. At housing he has proved his drive, his ambition and his determination to get to grips with difficult subjects and these are abilities which will all be required at the Home Office.”

Naturally, the spokesman did mention how Javid had recently been rebuffed by Number 10 when he asked the government to borrow £50bn to embark on a historic housebuilding exercise. A source told The Telegraph at the time that Javid was “picking a lot of fights” and “rubbing up against the political sensitivity of Number 10”.

Tory insiders suggest that Javid's track record on housebuilding is only part of the story and stress that he also handled the Grenfell Tower crisis well in his last job. But perhaps more importantly, he doesn’t have any Home Office baggage. As a child of the Windrush generation himself, it is also hoped that Javid will bring some much-needed empathy to the department.

Others suggest that May would have preferred to play safe and pick a trusted ally like James Brokenshire or Karen Bradley, but she was advised against such a defensive move. From this perspective, Javid getting the home secretary gig merely underlines the weakness of the prime minister.





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